Every hurdle is a little different in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament.
While the Maryland women are 15-0 in first round games under Coach Brenda Frese, the Terps are 8-7 in the second round. In four of five Round of 32 losses since 2010, they’ve been the favorite. And three times that’s happened at home, inside the Xfinity Center.
In some cases, the leap between facing a one-bid league to a Power Five conference team is significant, like swapping out a Radford for a UCLA. Other times, it’s facing an underseeded team that catches fire, like the No. 7 seed Washington that reached the 2016 Final Four. Regardless, the 2021 Terrapins are guarded as they attempt to reach the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 2017.
Maryland won its first round game over Mount St. Mary’s 98-45, thanks to a 25-4 run in the second quarter that effectively put the game away. The nation’s number one offense (91 points per game) did it with defense Monday, holding the Mountaineers to 15-61 (25%) while turning them over 20 times.
Ashley Owusu led a balanced attack with 22 points, eight rebounds and seven assists against the Mountaineers. The Third Team All-American and First Team All-Big Ten selection reminds her coach of another Terp — but not necessarily a guard.
“I could say her progression kind of reminds me of (All-American center) Crystal Langhorne,” Frese said. “Crystal came in as a really shy, quiet and introverted player, to watching her now on the court, comfortable in her skin, with the media.”
Next up? An Alabama team that beat North Carolina 80-71 in the first round.
The Crimson Tide are led by the twin towers of 6-foot-3-inch forwards Jasmine Walker (the senior transfer from Florida State averages 19 points and 10 rebounds per game while hitting 40% of her three-pointers) and Ariyah Copeland (the senior shoots 62% from the field while averaging 15 points with 9 rebounds a game), while fifth-year senior Jordan Lewis tallied 32 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists in their win over the Tar Heels.
“Well, we’ve got our work cut out from their big three. You saw the monster game that Lewis had for them,” Frese said. “Walker, Copeland. And then they got key contributions from a lot of their other players. For us nothing changes, it’s just a collective effort for forty minutes.”
Those forty (or more, in case of overtime) minutes begin at 1 p.m. Wednesday, March 24.